Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Passes Census of Agriculture Act of 1997

Washington, DC–The Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs yesterday unanimously approved a bipartisan bill to transfer responsibility for the Census of Agriculture from the Census Bureau to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture Act of 1997 (H.R. 2366) is the product of negotiations between the Senate, the House of Representatives, the USDA and the Department of Commerce. It is supported by the Clinton Administration.

“The Census of Agriculture yields important data on the number of farms, production costs, sales, and many indicators which provide a window to the agricultural industry,” said Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN). “I think it makes sense that the department with responsibility for administering and overseeing agricultural programs is also charged with collecting the data needed to support those programs.

“This transfer will save money by eliminating the need for both the Census Bureau and USDA to maintain separate lists of U.S. farms and ranches.”

Beginning in fiscal year 1997, the funding for the Census of Agriculture was transferred from the Census Bureau to the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service. However, H.R. 2366 is necessary to complete this transfer of authority. Without it, USDA will have to rely on the Census Bureau for certain Steps in the process of conducting the agriculture census.